I was pleasantly surprised to see how busy it was at the Lucca Restaurant at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi when I recently went there for Sunday brunch.
The Lucca is a smart casual restaurant for all-day dining with indoor booth tables and balcony seating overlooking the main road, surrounded by a glass wall that keeps out the street noise.
The all-you-can-eat brunch is set up buffet style all through the restaurant and onto the open-roof terrace area where there are more dining tables. Served from 12.30pm to 5pm, the brunch includes various cuisines from the quartet of restaurants at Villa Rosa Kempinski.
From the hotel’s pan-asian Restaurant, 88, we started off our brunch with a laksa, a spicy Malaysian noodle soup that really wakes up the taste buds.
Moving on to the cold starters: the salad bar with an assortment of antipasto and breads could be a meal on its own, particularly if you include the meat and vegetarian sushi rolls prepared by sushi master chef Tyrone Ompoy from the Philippines.
Reportedly, sushi rolls are what former US president Barrack Obama ordered for room service when he stayed at the hotel during his 2015 visit to Kenya.
From Tambourin, the Arabic cuisine restaurant, there is a shawarma station, hummus and other dipping sauces. More from Asia is at the Indian food corner, with an enticing selection of lentils, rice and fish, although I found the stewed lamb a little chewy. However, I especially enjoyed the chicken tikka with yoghurt sauce.
Lucca is an Italian restaurant, and the brunch features a live pasta station and various pizzas baked in a clay oven. From the grilled meats section, the lamb was my favourite; the tilapia fillet came a close second.
The Lucca brunch is heavier on lunch items than breakfast options, possibly because of the timing of the meal. However, it is possible to order an omelette.
The brunch comes with a selection of freshly squeezed juices, tea and coffee, but other drinks are charged separately.
If you have space left to sample the pudding selection, I recommend the warm blueberry and banana crumble. I finished off my sumptuous meal with a artisan cheeses with crackers followed by a coffee.
The restaurant atmosphere was livened up with music from the live band Gogosimo, which played a selection of Western and African songs. Sometimes the music was too loud for conversation, though.
It is a smart move on the part of the hotel to organise children’s activities one floor above the restaurant. Youngsters get to enjoy face painting, a creative corner and games led by a clown while their parents can dine leisurely without worrying about entertaining their children.
In one corner, a group of ladies dressed in an all-white theme were celebrating a birthday lunch.
At Ksh3,800 ($38) the brunch at Lucca Restaurant is certainly value for money. For an extra Ksh1,200 ($12) you can wash down your meal with a free flow of champagne. The menu is at half-price for children aged six to 12, while those under six years eat for free.
The Lucca Restaurant has distinguished itself with its choice of multiple cuisines from around the world. It was an appetising Sunday treat.